Dinner for one: tips and recipes for healthy, delicious solo meal creation

Cooking for one does not have to be daunting. While frozen dinners and canned soups can seem like tempting options, they often lack creativity and contain high amounts of sodium. The best advice I can give in terms of cooking for one and possibly for cooking in general is in planning meals in advance.

Plan at least 3 meals in advance. This helps you cook once, saving time while still creating variations to each meal. For the week I usually try to have chicken three times, vegetarian at least once and for the remaining days, seafood, and red meat only once as a treat.

The recipe below utilizes chicken in three ways. I have found that when buying packs of chicken breasts, these are usually portioned in threes, which works perfectly here. 

Grilled chicken breasts served three ways

MARINADE
Pinch of dried thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tbsp honey Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, grated
Salt, black pepper to taste

METHOD
Coat chicken with marinade and grill on medium-high heat for 15-20 mins in a stove top grill pan and set aside

Grilled chicken with roasted Poblano and mushroom sauce

2 roasted poblano peppers
½ cup cream
½ cup parsley
8oz package of mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup water
1 clove garlic, grated
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, black pepper to taste 

METHOD

  1. Puree poblano peppers, cream and parsley until smooth.
  2. Heat oil and cook onions until soft; add garlic and mushroom and cook until mushrooms have released their moisture and shrunk in size. Add water to deglaze the pan and season to taste.
  3. Add the cream mixture and cook for 10-15 mins on medium heat until thickened. 

Meal option 1: Serve chicken with the roasted poblano, mushroom sauce over brown rice

Meal option 2: Add ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and ½ cup of cooked broccoli (or any other desired vegetables) to the sauce; cut chicken into cubes and toss with pasta. (Note: only cook for one serving and according to package directions)

Grape tomato and fennel sauce

10 grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup fennel, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp butter
½ cup water
Salt, black pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Cook fennel and garlic in olive oil until soft. 
  2. Add thyme and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes begin to burst. 
  3. Add water and cook for 5-8 minutes more. 
  4. In the last minute, add the butter and let it melt completely into the sauce.

Meal option 3: Serve chicken with the grape tomato, fennel sauce over brown rice.